Dr Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, said that the country loses 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily to thieves.
He said this on Monday when he paid a courtesy visit to Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo at the Government House, Owerri.
According to him, the development is best described as a “national emergency”.
Sylva regretted that the nation had fallen short of OPEC daily quota, from 1.8 million barrels to 1.4 million barrels, due to crude theft.
However, he warned that such a huge economic loss was capable of crippling the nation’s economy, if not given the seriousness it deserved.
The Minister expressed concern that the menace had persisted, despite the efforts by the Federal and State Governments to arrest it.
“It is a national emergency because the theft has grown wings and reached a very bad crescendo. This is because the thefts are taking place in the communities that host the oil pipelines.
“As a result, it has become necessary to involve the stakeholders, especially the host communities. And because of the height and orchestrated nature of the menace, Nigeria could not take advantage and opportunities that abound in gas production.
“This is because no investor would want to invest where there is incessant insecurity and vandalism of the infrastructure,” he said.